The Great Valley field hockey team put together one of its best-ever seasons in 2022, winning the Ches-Mont League American Division and advancing to the second round of the PIAA tournament. Leading the charge was forward Nadia Nemeth, whose poise under pressure matches her undeniable skill.
For these reasons and many more, Nemeth is the Daily Local News All-Area Field Hockey Player of the Year.
“Nadia is a very skilled player and plays her all every second of every game,” said Great Valley coach Brenda Haley. “She plays with a composure that is usually not seen at the high school level.”
Nemeth, a junior, was one of the top offensive threats in all of District 1. Already committed to continue her academic and athletic careers at Northwestern University, which finished to North Carolina in the NCAA championships, Nemeth scored 40 goals with 18 assists, was a key player on both offensive and defensive corners, and was called upon as a penalty stroker.
“Nadia, more than her peers, plays with skill, focus and determination both in competition and practice,” said Haley. “The heart with which she plays is second to none. Nadia is always working to advance her play and skills.”
In any team sport, individual success often depends on the rest of the team. For Nemeth, that point is literally brought home by the support she gets from her center midfielder — twin sister Eva — who will be joining Nadia at Northwestern, has played a big part in her sister’s field hockey growth.
“It’s been amazing getting to compete for all of these years with Eva,” said Nemeth. “During the COVID-19 lockdown, my parents bought us a real mower, the push mowers with no engine, and we manually mowed out a spot on our back lawn to play together because the grass was never short enough. I think that is when we really built up our on-field connection.”
While it only seemed that every GV goal was some kind of Nemeth to Nemeth connection, the two were, without question, keys to the Great Valley offensive attack.
“Eva’s constantly dishing the ball to me so I can get a shot off,” said Nadia. “She is a really selfless and smart player. We are both very competitive people; always discussing who had the better shots in practice or who won the most one v. ones. This has helped us grow as players and grow the Great Valley field hockey program. I am very happy that we both will attend Northwestern and continue playing together. And no, we won’t live together!”
That connection started early, when the two started playing at the Fast Flicks club, with their mother, Nicole acting as their first coach.
“We’ve played together ever since first grade, so I think we know each other’s actions in certain situations before it even happens,” said Nemeth. “I always watch her eyes and body positioning closely to help me know where to cut, and we’re always communicating on the field.”
Sports have always been a big deal in the Nemeth household. Her mom and dad, Derek, both Downingtown High School graduates, played college sports. Dad played Division 1 baseball at the University of Pennsylvania, while Mom played softball at Ursinus. Her brother Luke is currently a freshman pitcher at Dickinson College. Brother David, currently a junior at Penn, was a member of the Patriots state championship tennis team back in 2019.
“We were definitely one of those try-every-sport families,” said Nemeth. “I played travel basketball until 8th grade and third-base on my travel softball team until 10th grade. My schedule became super busy between running to softball tournaments and field hockey practices. Most Sundays in the spring you would find me at a softball tournament in the morning, field hockey practice in the afternoon, and back at the softball diamond at night!”
When playing for her club team, WC Eagles, one of the top ranked clubs in the nation, Nemeth bounces between forward and midfield.
“I enjoy playing both positions,” said Nemeth. “I decided to play forward in high school so I could play one of the central positions on the field. There is so much room up in the front for my teammates to give long balls, small passes, and give and goes to me, and once I get the ball, there’s a variety of shots I can take. I can drive the ball, take a one v one, flick, or pass for a deflection. There is a lot of opportunity for creativity, which makes it such a fun position to play.
Nemeth has been at the center of a re-birth of the field hockey program at Great Valley, with the Patriots improving each year she’s been at the varsity level.
“I’m so glad to be part of the build-up of this program,” said Nemeth.” There are a lot of great schools around here for both field hockey and education, but Eva and I chose to stay here because we believed that, we, and our teammates, had the drive and focus to become a great team. I’m just really proud of how much players on this team have developed their skills and field hockey knowledge throughout the past season.”
Squared off against Kennett in the second round of the District 1, 3A playoffs, a round where the winner would be guaranteed a spot in the state tourney, while the loser saw the season end, Nemeth showed a bit of that poise under pressure. While the Blue Demons loudly cheered each other ahead of the first overtime, Nemeth encouraged her teammates to hold the excitement for the end of the game, and to just stay within themselves and play their game.
“That game has to be my favorite memory from this season,” said Nemeth. “There were about six minutes left in the second overtime, and Eva sent a rocket of a pass into the circle. I knew that that was our chance to win, because Kennett’s goalie is one of the best in the league, and it wouldn’t have been favorable for our team to go into shootouts against her. I took my first touch around her and shot the ball into the goal to score. Our entire team celebrated in a pile on the ground together, and I don’t think I’ve ever been that excited after a win before.”
While that win stands out, the entire postseason run was a highlight for Nemeth.
“To finish third in this highly competitive district with two overtime wins, and then find ourselves in overtime against one of the best programs in Pennsylvania in the state quarterfinals? That was something special for this team,” said Nemeth. “We have a lot of great athletes who want to win. About half of our starting line- up plays club field hockey. To make it that far into playoffs on just determination and hustle was a huge accomplishment for us.”
Currently sitting at 85 goals for her career, if she stays healthy, Nemeth is a virtual lock to become one of just a handful of Chester County players to reach the century mark.
“It will be a great accomplishment, but I really think it’s a testament to the teammates I have and the girls I have played with,” said Nemeth. “Being center forward, I can only score if I get the ball, and my teammates work so hard to get the ball to my stick where I want it so I can get a good shot off.”
Last month, Nemeth got to watch as her future teammates at Northwestern made a post season run of its own, reaching the NCAA title game against North Carolina, before falling 2-1, thanks to a game-winner in the final minute from Unionville native and a past Daily Local News Player of the Year, Erin Matson.
“It was exciting to watch their entire playoff run,” said Nemeth. “The whole team worked so hard and really hustled to get to that position in the final, and I could not be more excited to join Northwestern’s field hockey program.”
But before she’ll join the Wildcats and hopefully get her own shot at an NCAA title, there’s some unfinished business at Great Valley. The Patriots return a very talented squad, and will enter the season among the favorites in District 1.
“The beginning of field hockey season is always exciting,” said Nemeth. “Everyone in this program loves to win, and we want to bring Great Valley back to the top of the rankings in the district. I am so glad to get another season to rematch against some of the teams in the area, because we still have a very solid varsity line-up.”
As with any great athlete in any sport, no one does it alone.
“I’d like to thank my parents for getting just as into the field hockey season as I did, and my grandparents for coming to all of my games, no matter the temperature or the weather,” said Nemeth. I’d also like to thank all of my coaches at WC Eagles for teaching me everything I know about this game, and for giving me the confidence in myself on the field. Finally I’d like to thank my school field hockey teammates and Coach Haley for pushing me to improve and for supporting me every day, on and off the field.”
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